Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A report card to myself

I hesitate to write this, but...

The year is going excellently!

SHHHH!!!! Don't tempt the Gods and read that out loud! Knocking on wood and throwing salt over my shoulder and looking for a spot to spit as I type this...

But seriously, I'm happy. We're not perfectly timed like a digital clock; checking in and out, ticking this off and filing that. We run loosely and freely. There are issues to cover and details to complete for sure; but those details are most definitely not dictating the flow of our lives.

Justin is slowly wading into algebra this year. Don't tell him, but he's actually doing well with it. He doesn't like to admit that he's able to retain information (one of his favorite phrases) but that kid, on a good and happy day, can learn anything. He just needs to give himself more credit. I keep hoping that the "drive to learn for learning's sake" will kick in. Sometimes, I can see it taking hold, only to slip back again and be hidden behind the "I hate school" mantra. He's a tough cookie to figure out, but he always insists that he never wants to go to public school again. This is a question I pose to him whenever he claims that I am asking too much of him or presenting him with too much work. I remind him of the homework that would take us all into the late evening hours, should he be in public school. I remind him of the earlier bedtime and early alarm clock wake ups that we would all be enjoying, should he go to school. And then he usually grumbles and plods through whatever I've laid out for the day. :)

Evan is still Mr. Active. He likes to stand up to do his schoolwork and sometimes does his best stories while he dictates as he walks in circles. No joke. His mind works way faster than his hand can keep up, so I have him dictate to me, and then have him copy the work afterwards. His spelling and writing abilities are slowly catching up to his grade level and he continues to do well at his math and reading comprehension. I keep meaning to look for a good health/human body curriculum but haven't found something as of yet...

Corinne reads well above her age level. What level does she read at? I don't know. Don't really care. I just know that she is ABLE to read. And that everything we're doing with her seems to be working. I don't set any age restrictions to the math or reading or science that she receives. If the boys are doing it, and she's interested? I pull her onto my lap and she learns alongside them. And she RETAINS it. Not all of it and not perfectly, but WOW. She remembers! It's interesting to think of what she'll be doing when she is Evan or Justin's ages...

And, with that, I have to jet so that I can take them all to our homeschool co-op where they will do a writing class, 2 different history classes, P.E. (run by me!) and a reading/art class. The group has gotten larger lately and there are tons of kids that my children are becoming good friends with. Basically? Our school year (and family year) is off to a fabulous start!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And so it begins...

Evan and Corinne in our "spaghetti garden."
And yes; we've made a LOT of spaghetti this August...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Run-on sentences and improper punctuation, but it's 4 am and I'm tired...

Every year we do this homeschooling gig, I learn more and more about the educational system and fall more and more in love with our current lifestyle. I am so happy that we are able to provide this option for our kids. I remember school. There were some great times. There were some crappy times. But mostly? Mostly I felt unimportant and not as worthy as the other children. High school sucked but for the extra curricular activities. SUCKED.

This girl's valedictorian speech reminds me, once more, that the cookie cutter system available by public school isn't a good shape for my family. My children are thriving and learning and living just fine in our home. I cannot imagine sending them back to someone else for their education! I simply can't. It kind of breaks my heart a little. I try to be flexible and open to the possibility that one or more of them will want to try public school out someday, but it actually sounds quite foreign. Isn't that interesting? I've become more used to homeschooling. Even after my own public education and the 4.5 years we had our kids in public! 16.5 years of public school combined, and I am more loyal to home education!

Wow. I really am exhausted. This will NOT be a brilliant post, heralding the remarkable abilities of me as a home educator. Let it be known that I do a good job. I DO. And I know that I can do AT LEAST as good of a job as a public school system can do. Naturally, my goal is to do BETTER, but since I don't believe in report cards (never have!), you can't prove or test my theory.

Or can you?

Corinne is reading SO WELL and doing math way above what I know other kids her age are doing. And she's doing it independently.

Evan still struggles to put words onto paper, but the words fly from his brain! He has such an imagination! I want this year to be the Year of Imagination for Evan. I want to nurture his creativity. I want to let his talents be the front-runner for everything I offer him to learn. Geography, creative writing, art, history... Why didn't I do more of that last year? I tried, but didn't place enough importance on it.

Justin picks up what he's interested in and surprises me with the knowledge he can retain. Who knew that a big box of National Geographics would inspire him?

Yawn. What was I saying? I really am tired. Need sleep. Can't write anymore...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My New Mission Statement

It's summertime. My kids don't deliberately "do school" in the summer because

a. I am lazy


b. they would kill me. Truly.

But my 5 year old, who has never been "to school" but loves homeschooling, has been working like a maniac this summer! Reading all the time, asking to do Freerice.com, randomly sitting at her desk to work on writing and math workbooks and on and on. Just a moment ago, I helped her tug out the big box of Math U See manipulatives and she is currently stacking and counting and building and LEARNING without an agenda.

That's what I hope to accomplish this year: Learning without an agenda.

I think I'll make it my mission statement....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reason #2,768 to love the freedom of homeschooling

"Mom, can we focus on genetics and biology for the rest of the school year?"

He loves it and I am happy to oblige. Off to the library we go!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photo post!

It's addictive, really. Buying curriculum... speculating about the brilliance that will be absorbed next year before this year is even over. Speaking of which, It's Spring Break this week!!
Finger looming. She LOVES it. Patterns, fine motor skills, etc.
You go, girl!
Museum of Science and Industry never fails to entertain and educate my family...
We enjoyed the regular exhibits AND toured the Body Worlds exhibit! It was really interesting, but Evan was grossed out when he realized that they were REAL human bodies...
The plethora of dioramas made up for the ickiness. He ADORES miniatures. He's probably pretending to wage a war in that shot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RSA Animate's video on Changing Education Paradigms

Thank you Deb for sharing this link! What a cool video!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Madness

Things we're loving:

Corinne at age 5 is reading! Yes, reading, reading. Thanks to brilliant genetics (ahem) and programs like Starfall.com, All About Spelling and Frontline Phonics Readers (we bought this program about 9 years ago and I highly endorse it for little ones!), she is an avid reader. Amazing, actually. No bias.

She's also spending a lot of time on her finger loom, sewing a pillow at homeschool club, learning bits of clocks and money and just diving into all things kindergarten. I have no doubt tthat she learns more than I realize. Since I don't do a formal "record" of my kids' academics, it's a bit difficult to "gauge" her school level, but I'd put her at about the K-2nd grade levels for most of her abilities. Considering she would only be eligible for preschool due to her birth date, I'm really pleased with how she's progressing!

Evan is nearly 9 and has shown a HUGE improvement in the past year. His reading comprehension is the largest area that I am excited about. My heart nearly stops whenever I walk in on him just reading, JUST FOR FUN. This from the child who hated books about 2 years ago!

He continues to be an extremely imaginative writer and just took on the beginning of his first "novel" entitled "The Battle of Normandy Beach." Honestly? It's pretty darn interesting! I ignore the spelling and grammar and encourage the imagination because his vocabulary is far above his spelling ability. He is doing the Excellence in Writing through a homeschool group to assist the development of expanding ideas and utilizing all parts of the English language. It's extremely exciting for me to have a fellow writer in the house. :)

I recently started him on Teaching Textbooks, level 5 for Math. It is a cd-rom math program that I resisted for a long time because it just looked too expensive for something that a workbook could teach. But we borrowed it from a friend and Evan has responded REALLY well to it. (as have all the other children in our homeschooling group). Soooo... I do believe I will be buying the set for him for this year and for next. (And for Corinne for levels 2-4 as well! She likes to sit with him and shout out the answers! Yikes.)

He just finished his American Heritage history book from Abeka (though we're not Christian, I like the layout. We just skip the proverbs!) and I would like to have another formal history curriculum for him but I think that the Story of the World that we have is just a bit above his language comprehension right now. Anyone have any other Abeka history books they want to sell?? He's doing a study on Martin Luther King Jr. from library books for a while. I may just have him pick out important people to study for the remainder of the year.

GEOGRAPHY! This kid is a wiz. As in, WOW. We are working on the capitals of all the states now as he's memorized the states quite a while ago. Evan responds really well to flashcards. I want to get some anatomy and world geography flash cards for him for next year. Again, anyone want to make a few bucks by selling what they have?

Justin is 12 and does a majority of his work independently now. Yay! He is on book 2 of Life of Fred and I cannot speak highly enough about this program. We both enjoy it, and it's a great supplement for a math curriculum. We don't use a formal curriculum and so his Fred books are actually in conjunction with several workbooks that we have bought online and through book stores. I hope to find something of a higher level for him next year and am considering the Teaching Textbooks for his age, too. It seems to be harder to find homeschooling curriculum over 6th grade without searching online...

He is on book 2 of Story of the World and still enjoying its layout. I have been lax in testing or quizzing on this book but we are doing a group class that centers around the 2nd book and I find that this is a great way to supplement and reinforce what he's already read.

Justin also uses several books from FlashKids and Spectrum that are just fabulous. I especially like the color and texture of the FlashKids books (really important for Justin's comfort level issues). He is plodding through the Fearless Writing Essay workbook; it's only been slightly bloody over that book. (Though I have finally found a topic he wants to write about: Dungeons and Dragons! THANK YOU GOD!) I like the layout of this book and intend on purchasing some of the other topics as well.

I am truly happy with all of their academics this year. Without a report card to show to family and friends, it's difficult to explain how much they've learned. It seems that we all desire a checklist, report card, letter grade, etc. as "proof" of how intelligent or educated our children are. However, the longer I homeschool, the greater my belief is in the LACK of a checklist of evidence. My children are the evidence! They are thriving and writing and reading and building and creating and playing and HAPPY.*

What report card could tell me more than that?

*(Not counting the pre-teen angst...)